ELMHURST – When the Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church's community service team learned how far financial support could go toward clean water projects in developing nations, the group began a year-long search for the best nonprofit to partner with on such a project.
Elmhurst resident and community service team member Anna Wick described clean water projects as the "best bang for your giving buck."
The team raised more than $30,000 through two events this summer, which will be enough money to cover the cost of an entire clean water project.
After narrowing the field to five potential charities to donate to, the team settled on Water Missions International, and began a relationship they plan to build on for years to come.
"They have a sustainable model," Wick said of why they were chosen.
According to Wick, the Christian engineering charity not only implements custom clean water systems in developing nations, but also trains people in the community to maintain them. The systems vary by each community's need and proximity to a natural water source. Water Missions International also provides ongoing support should the system need repairs.
Wick said she is excited to learn about the community her church will contribute to through updates and photos. She expects to receive a list of communities to choose from within the next few weeks.
The community service team raised the bulk of the funds for the project with the Walk in a Bucket event earlier this month. Around 175 people of all ages made a 2-mile walk from the church to the pond near Eldridge Park and back, filling buckets with water from the pond.
"The whole idea of it is to replicate what many women and children have to do every day for their water," Wick said.
Wick said the experience was very moving, especially when they saw the fresh pond water, unpurified and filled with dirt from the banks. While her children are still too young to fully understand the project, Wick said many parents used the walk as a learning tool for their children.
Since the church will continue to build a relationship with their future community partner, Wick doesn't anticipate repeating the project in the in near future. The community service team often chooses new projects in order to involve people with different passions.
"People have a heart for different causes," Wick said.
The church used funds raised during a garage sale earlier in the summer to surpass their goal, which Wick admits she had doubts about reaching during the project's planning stages.
"To have it come out like this and to have us reach our goal; it was really an amazing feeling," Wick said.